Editorial

Crude term maybe, but it’s true

Friday, January 19, 2018

We’ve had some time to digest the furor over President Trump’s alleged comments about certain countries as “sh*%holes.” Now it’s time to learn from the experience.

First, the president denies using that particular term. That may make this whole discussion moot if it were ever possible to prove it either way. Several lawmakers back up his account. The usual Trump detractors have feigned outrage over the mere use of the language when they’ve called him far worse. This was a private conversation in the Oval Office about a pressing issue in this country. Immigration—both legal and illegal—is something that needs to be tackled. Having participants in the debate go tattletale to the Washington Post is counterproductive to solving the problem. They sound like little babies who are only concerned about scoring political points and not really doing anything constructive.

But let’s concentrate on the terminology itself. We all know what the president is alleged to have said. Is it true? Without question it is. Haiti, for example, has a poverty rate near sixty percent. It certainly qualifies for what might henceforth be a new informal State Department designation. According to the UN, of the twenty poorest nations on earth, fourteen are in Africa.

Critics of the president’s choice of words immediately called it—and him—racist. These are basically the same type of people who’ve stood idly by for generations ignoring the conditions in these very countries. If they haven’t ignored them they’ve applied liberal solutions that have only made matters worse. They blame “colonialism” for the plight of these countries. Most were subjects of either the French or the British. That argument doesn’t hold water. Hong Kong was a former possession of the British Empire. So was Canada. And you may remember a little possession of the British by the name of the United States of America.

The widespread poverty in these now-designated “sh*%holes” is due largely to the tin-horn dictatorships or communist regimes that followed their independence. The liberal solution is to redistribute resources from the countries that have figured this out to the countries who haven’t. Naturally, those resources are bottled up by the same despots who’ve made sure the rest of their country remains poor.

That’s not what the meeting in the Oval Office was about. It was about immigrants from these countries. President Trump’s contention is we shouldn’t be importing people who are prone to either be criminals or wards of the state or both. And he’s exactly right. Immigration to this country should be like a job interview. A State Department official should look across the desk at the applicant and ask him or her what they can contribute to this great country of ours. That doesn’t mean they have to be doctors. It means they need to be able to add something positive when they arrive, not drag the country down.

Yes, there are exceptions for refugees, but as we’ve seen with the recent El Salvadoran flap, some refugees come and never go home. These folks came to escape an earthquake in 2001 and they’re still here.

Check out Roy Beck’s gum ball illustration from Numbers USA on YouTube some time. You’ll understand that we can’t possibly take in everyone who wants to come here. Nor should we. Many of these people should remain in their own countries to bring pressure to bear on the sinister forces that keep them in poverty.

Donald Trump, in his crude but effective style, has finally brought the issue to the fore. We can either call it racist or address it.

©2018 Phil Valentine.